The D Brief: Russian military leaders, wanted; Ukraine’s deep strikes; Defense-spending veto threat; New supply-chain issues; And a bit more.

The International Criminal Court just posted arrest warrants for two of Russia’s most visible officers whose planning and oversight have been central to the Ukraine invasion. 

Involved: Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov and former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The warrants zero in on “alleged international crimes committed from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023,” according to the ICC’s charges. During that time, Russian invasion forces initiated drone and missile attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the winter of 2022-2023. 

The alleged but thoroughly documented crimes include “directing attacks at civilian objects” (article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute) and “causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects” (article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute), and what the ICC described as “the crime against humanity of inhumane acts” under article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute.

For the record, “These are proper warrants, not requests for warrants,” said Hague-based journalist Molly Quell

You may recall that Russian leader Vladimir Putin also has an ICC warrant out for his arrest. That has essentially restricted the number of countries he’s likely to visit in the months ahead, but hasn’t changed much of anything about how Russia or Putin operate. A similar restriction is expected for Gerasimov and Shoigu, who travel abroad even less than their autocratic leader Putin. 

Western security officials say Russian saboteurs started a fire last month at a Berlin factory that manufactures air-defense systems. The blaze affected operations at the Diehl Metal Applications factory, and the fire began “in an area to which only a few people had access,” the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. “European countries, seeking to avoid escalation, have been cautious about publicly blaming Moscow, but privately security officials say Russia appears to be stepping up attacks on civilian and military sites and people in Europe connected with efforts to help Ukraine fend off invading Russian troops,” the Journal writes. 

New: A military electronics production and research facility near Moscow caught fire Monday, the Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov reported, citing footage uploaded to Telegram. At least six people perished in the fire, state-run media TASS said Tuesday on Telegram. The source of the fire has not yet been determined. 

Location: The Platan research institute, which cranks out components “used in all Russian fighter jets, nuclear launch munitions, S-400 air defenses and various guided munitions,” according to Trofimov. The institute has been under U.S. sanctions since June 2022. Read more at the Moscow Times.

New: Ukrainian forces appear to have attacked and damaged a Russian space communications facility in occupied Crimea, according to open source researchers (like Mark Krutov) and fire mapping provided by NASA. 

ICYMI: Ukrainian forces seem to have struck a Russian air defense training center more than 80 miles from the front lines, near the Yeysk air base, Brady Africk of the American Enterprise Institute noted on Twitter over the weekend. 

Video: View the beaches of occupied Crimea as Russians flee after air defense systems shot down four alleged U.S.-provided ATACMS missiles with cluster munition warheads north of Sevastopol on Sunday. Russian officials claimed at least four people were killed and more than 100 wounded. Reuters has more. 

Developing: “The U.S. is expected to announce more military aid for Ukraine valued at $150 million” as soon as Tuesday, Voice of America’s Carla Babb reported Monday. 

Ukraine’s president just replaced one of his top officers, Lt. Gen. Yuriy Sodol, who had been commander of Ukraine’s Joint Forces for just four months. President Volodymir Zelenskyy did not give a reason for his dismissal, but the BBC reports Sodol has been accused of incompetence and negligence for sending more Ukrainians to their death than Russian generals.  Relatedly, Sodol was in charge of Ukraine’s eastern and southern land forces, “which have been grappling with Russia’s advancing offensive, as it has been gaining momentum in recent months,” the Guardian reports. 

Developing: Denmark’s military chief said the Danes will stop training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s by the end of the year. “We will be transitioning to flying the F-35, so we need to spend our energy on that, and so we cannot continue training Ukrainian pilots after 2024,” Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said Monday. The Danes are currently training about 20 pilots at their Skrydstrup air base. The Kyiv Independent has a bit more.

Additional reading: 

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1996, Hezbollah and Iranian operatives detonated a truck bomb at the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. airmen and wounding almost 500 others in the vicinity.

Supply chains are under strain, again, according to the New York Times, which says “global shipping prices are soaring, raising fears of product shortages and delays” as a result of the Iran-backed Houthis naval terrorism campaign off Yemen’s coasts.  

Consider the following: “Since October, the cost of moving a 40-foot shipping container from China to Europe has increased to about $7,000, from an average of roughly $1,200…That is well below the $15,000 peak reached in late 2021.” However, “Rates to ship goods across the Pacific have multiplied by a similar magnitude.” Read on, here

Taiwan wants a force of drones, but China makes the ones it wants. Taipei, which has closely watched Ukraine hold off an invading army with small, cheap drones, wants to replicate that capability. Its problem is that Chinese manufacturers are the easiest or sole source for the components it needs. (WSJ)

The German, French, and Spanish air forces will soon train together across four continents in a series of drills known as Pacific Skies 2024. It’s the largest-ever joint drills between the three nations, and it features nearly 2,000 personnel and 45 aircraft in exercises running through mid-August. 

The exercises are taking place across Alaska (Arctic Defender); Australia (Pitch Black); Japan (Nippon Skies); and India (Tarang Shakti I). 

The big idea with all of this is “to demonstrate Europe's commitment to the Indo-Pacific region by focusing on the importance of security cooperation between NATO partners in the region…and demonstrate their ability to work together during a crisis,” French aerospace firm Airbus said in a statement. (Forty Airbus aircraft are taking part in the extended drills.)

Regional reax: Pacific Skies is not necessarily a NATO aerial deployment “per se, but it should be deemed rather unprecedented,” said Singapore-based scholar Collin Koh

From the region: In Rare Rebuke, U.S. Ambassador Accuses China of Undermining Diplomacy,” the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday from Beijing.

The White House has threatened to veto House Republicans’ defense appropriations bill that’s on the floor this week. In a Monday statement, the Biden administration wrote that H.R. 8774 includes “numerous, partisan policy provisions with devastating consequences for the readiness and wellbeing of America’s military and their families, including harming access to reproductive healthcare, threatening the health and safety of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Americans, endangering marriage equality, restricting telework for Defense Department employees, including a critical retention tool for military spouses working for the Federal Government, hindering critical climate change initiatives, and preventing the Administration from promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, which make the Nation’s military a more ready and lethal force.”

New: Surgeon general declares gun violence a public-health crisis. In an advisory published Tuesday, Dr. Vivek Murthy called on policymakers to pass stronger laws to reduce deaths by firearms, which he said “have been the leading cause of death for children and teenagers since 2020, when they surpassed car crashes,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Lastly today: Army confirms House lawmaker is ineligible for the combat badge he wears. “When House Republicans called Rep. Troy Nehls out for continuing to wear a revoked Combat Infantryman Badge, he challenged critics to ‘go ask the Army’,” reports NOTUS, a nonprofit newsroom. “So NOTUS did.” Army officials confirmed the Texas Republican’s Guard and Reserve service over two decades as an enlisted infantryman, then armor specialist, and finally as a civil affairs officer. 

But they also said that the CIB he was issued in 2008 was revoked in 2023 after a review found him ineligible. Nehls, who voted to overturn election results in 2021, has continued to wear the badge as a label pin. Read on, here.